Chapter 25: Rest and Relaxation
They brought Dawn back to her room with no trouble, Charlie carrying her. Once again, Corrie watched their path, and it was empty—though this time she did see a couple laughing, holding hands and running down the path from one dorm to another. At least they weren’t the only ones walking on the campus at all.
After Charlie had set Dawn back down on her bed and left, Corrie and Naomi wiped the makeup off her face, took her shoes off, and tucked her in as best they could. Corrie sighed, straightening up, then turned to Naomi. “Do you want me to stay here and help you keep an eye on her?”
Naomi shook her head and gestured dismissively. “You should get some sleep, too. Or wait for Edie, anyway. I don’t think anything interesting is going to happen. Anyway, Jerry’s going to come over a little later. Just keep your phone on.”
Corrie smiled. At least one of them was going to have a better night. “I will. Don’t worry.”
Her room, to her disappointment but not surprise, was still empty. It was almost midnight. She took her shoes off, only realizing as her feet were able to relax that they had been hurting in the heels she was wearing, and knelt on her bed to look out the window. The sky was still full of clouds, but faint moonlight outlined them, showing that they were puffy and didn’t threaten rain.
She lowered her head to look out at the forest a short distance from the window. Somewhere out there, she knew, a faerie ball was happening, and somewhere else, Edie was with Leila. She felt a moment of self-indulgent loneliness, then shook it off. If she wanted someone in her bed, or even just to spend the night with, she could have it. She was comfortable with her choice.
However, she wasn’t comfortable with sitting in her room, waiting for her phone to ring or for Edie to get back. She stood up and paced, but it just made her feel more restless. A sudden thought about her mood made her look at the poster she and Edie had moved to the front wall earlier that day. She couldn’t find the sticker. Heart pounding in worry—though she couldn’t place exactly what it was that she was worried about—she walked closer, only to find that the sticker had come off and was resting on the top of her dresser.
Shaking her head and grinning at herself, she picked it up and tested the back. Sure enough, it had lost all of its stickiness. She picked out a new one and stuck it firmly on “happy.” It didn’t make her feel any less restless, but at least the poster was doing what she told it to.
She crossed to the window again, feeling a little sick. She couldn’t just sit here and wait for something to happen. A breeze rippled the treetops. Corrie knew she had to find out what was going on.
She changed into jeans and sneakers, and put on a dark gray hoodie that she hoped would make her blend into the shadows a little bit. Then she tightened the wire of her bracelets, put her keys and her clover in her pockets, and headed outside.
It was still quiet, still dark. There were a few birds chattering in the trees. It wasn’t too cold, though. Corrie gritted her teeth and walked straight for the forest. She knew from previous times entering it that they went pretty much straight—as much as the trees and the land would allow—from Gilkey to where the faerie court was.
Chatoyant College was in a valley, she realized as she hiked. She’d never been paying this much attention before, but leaving the campus either north or east, there was a definite slope to the ground. She’d never left the campus going west. She was just starting to worry about her direction when she saw lights ahead. When she clutched at her clover, they faded, changing to tiny firefly lights, so she let go and started walking again.
It was eerily familiar as she approached, reminding her not of the race to save Edie but of the search for Annie. From this angle and without her clover to break the glamour, it looked like a tall, Elizabethan-style wooden building, its roof so high it couldn’t be seen. Warm lamps shone in the windows. There were huge doors thrown open at the front, spilling candlelight and lamplight out into the forest floor.
She tiptoed behind a tree before she could get too close to the door, not wanting anyone to see her. She snuck a little closer, then peeked in one of the windows. Inside was a bright, sparkling crowd, dancers swirling, people talking and laughing. She could see the orchestra that Annie had narrowly avoided being a part of. And there, in a glittering black ball gown, was Professor Lal.